“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. In my children’s memories, the adventures we’ve had together in nature will always exist.” -Richard Louv
That quote is from the author of the book “Last Child in the Woods”. The book was given to be by another nature lover and educator. Although I have not finished the book, it is an inspirational. It is a book to remind us that our children are the future and education and nature for them is vital. I do not have children of my own yet, but in my position as a forester for the Conservation District…education is key! This past Saturday, I was asked to host an educational table for 4-H children. I will also in the next week be at two more educational “Earth Day” events for young children to teach them about trees, the importance of trees, and to love this Earth for everything it can give us.
When planning what I was going to do, I picked the brains of folks around me and decided to go with a way children can connect everyday things they see with trees. I also learned through the experience and sharing this project with those around me that even adults do not understand the basics of trees, I was not shocked! We see trees on a daily basis, but we do not know the basic functions of a tree. I’ve blogged about the benefits of yard trees (clean air, reduction in stormwater runoff, energy savings) but today I am going to blog about what I told and will tell lots of children this month in honor of Earth Day!
Trees are a renewable resource that give us basic essentials; to those materialist products we enjoy. They literally give us everything we use. Do you know how difficult it is to find something not made from a tree??! I am telling you right now, my friends, it is not an easy task!! I wanted to make a fun quiz for the children, so I started filling a box with products made from a tree and products not made from a tree. It was super easy finding those items made from a tree, I could have put my whole darn office in that box, but I did not!! Instead I researched and researched and researched for things not made from trees. This is what I came up with…a magnet and a plastic bottle. I am not even 100% sure if I am correct on these items!!! Here I thought Crayons were tree free–NOPE!!! Gum extracted from trees helps make crayons! Mind BLOWN!
When I asked an 11 year old boy to pick out an item from the box that he thought was not made from trees, his first choice was a sheet of paper that said “Ice Cream” on it. This one was my curve ball! Yes, ice cream contains cellulose from trees to give it texture. He dug around some more, looked at the tooth paste, the band aid and finally grabbed the magnet! I yelled Yahtzee! With a little extra thought he was able to find the rare item not made from a tree.
It is important not only for adults to be educated on trees but to connect our children in unique ways to the earth, I primarily focus on trees, because it is my job but I try to tie it all in together in the end. After going over the tree parts, deciduous vs. coniferous trees, and tree harvesting the children were able to connect themselves to trees and find what is and is not made from a tree. We need to keep making these connections and getting children outside and educating them, they are the future stewards of this Earth and they need to learn now to love it and respect it. I know, when folks ask me why I became a forester…I tell them about my childhood. Growing up with a woods in my backyard I was never inside (yes I know times have changed) but I still was outside more then I was inside. At a young age I created that bond with nature that carried into my career.
Get outside, bond and love the Earth! Earth Day April 22nd.